Famous Trees of Texas – Goose Island Oak

Big_treeTexas’ largest tree by girth, the Goose Island Oak is located on the Gulf Coast near Rockport, Texas. In the 1960s, this tree, which has been used as a hanging tree, a pirate’s rendezvous and a ceremonial site for the cannibalistic Karankawa Indians, was named the largest live oak in America by the organization American Forests.

Found inside on the Lamar Peninsula within Goose Island State Park, the estimated age of the tree is 1,000 years old. Legend has it that the Goose Island Oak was once a place where the Karankawas, who were cannibalistic, devoured their enemies and members of their own tribe. The fierce Comanche Indians were also reported to use the tree as a rendezvous point.

Earlier visitors to the Goose Island Oak could have included the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca in 1528 and Sieur de La Salle in 1684. Governor Alonso de Leon arrived in 1689, looking for de La Salle. He found the ruins of St. Louis instead and rescued the only three survivors of La Salle’s colony from the Karankawas.

This large tree is sometimes called the “Bishop’s Tree” because a Catholic bishop’s home or chapel stood nearby in the abandoned town of Lamar. The name “Lamar Oak” was probably taken from the name of the town nearby. Lamar flourished in the 1830s. Now, we know the tree simply as the “Big Tree.”

In 1966, this national champion live oak measured 421 ½ inches in circumference. It was also 44 feet high and had a crown spread of 89 feet. You can find the “Big Tree” at Goose Island State Park near Rockport. There are signs inside the park that direct park visitors to the tree.

As mentioned before, the tree’s age is estimated at over 1,000 years old. However, no sample has been taken. It’s only a matter of time before technology can estimate its actual age. The tree has an unusual branching pattern which is probably related to the near-continuous gulf breeze.

For more information on the Goose Island Oak, you can read up on it on the internet. For help with your existing trees in your yard, please contact us at 512-341-8888. We can help keep your trees healthy and safe.